Parents attending graduation at South Florence High School in Florence, South Carolina, were asked to hold their applause until the end of the ceremony, but Shannon Cooper couldn't resist cheering as her daughter, Iesha Cooper, walked across the stage.
Cooper knew she'd violated the rules, so after Iesha had walked off stage, she got up from her seat and started to leave. Before she could get out of the civic center where the ceremony was being held, she was handcuffed by officers from the Florence Police Department and escorted through where graduating students were seated, taken outside, and put in a police van, where she sat in plain view of the other families and students for 45 minutes as her daughter cried in the parking lot.
Florence police charged Cooper with disorderly conduct despite the fact that she did not protest the escort. She was kept in detention for several hours and posted bail in time to take her daughter out to dinner. Her trial is on June 13.
WPDE in Florence, which broke the story, has an update, including reactions from the Florence PD and the superintendent of schools, both of whom believe the arresting officers were firmly in the right:
Florence police said it was announced before the ceremony that anyone who cheered or screamed would be escorted out of the building, and those who were disorderly, were arrested.
Florence Police Chief Anson Shells disagrees with Cooper's defense and said the facts of the case will come out at the trial.
He talked to us Wednesday for the first time since Cooper's arrest.
"The last thing that any of us wanted to see happen was somebody end up being arrested during a graduation ceremony," Shells told us, "But, unfortunately people can not be allowed to disrupt a ceremony to the point where everyone can't enjoy it, and unfortunately that's what happened in this case."
Shells said he stands by his officers and believes Cooper's arrest was lawful.
The superintendent of Florence School District One, Dr. Allie Brooks, is also responding to the criticism handed out since the story went viral.
Brooks said they call parents, send letters, and warn them during the ceremony of the consequences of cheering.
"Our public relations officer, Mrs. Pamela McDaniel, can show you evidence of what was done by all the schools both verbally and in writing. Now that's at least four occasions before you get to the ultimate of being asked to be out," said Dr. Brooks.
Brooks said they hired 30 law enforcement officers to work the district's three graduations, at a cost that was higher than they paid to rent the Florence Civic Center.
Brooks commended the police officers for doing what they did to ensure safety and order at the graduation ceremonies.